- Facebook has launched a dedicated app for people to create and watch live gameplay.
- The move pits Facebook against the likes of Amazon's Twitch and Google's YouTube.
- It's hoping to gain traction as Covid-19 forces people around the world to shelter in place.
Facebook is making a big push into gaming at a time when the space is seeing a huge boom in demand thanks to the coronavirus lockdowns.
On Monday, the social media giant launched a dedicated mobile app called Facebook Gaming worldwide, where people will be able to create and watch live gameplay. The move sees Facebook taking on the likes of Amazon's Twitch, Google's YouTube and Microsoft's Mixer.
The news was originally reported by The New York Times and later confirmed to CNBC.
The app has already been available for testing in Southeast Asia and Latin America for the past 18 months. It offers a similar experience to the Gaming tab on Facebook's website, which lets users broadcast themselves or watch a streamer playing games instead.
Facebook Gaming also features a function called "Go Live," which lets users livestream mobile games directly from their smartphone to Facebook. This eliminates the need for dedicated third-party software and hardware which people usually require to broadcast themselves playing games on platforms like Twitch.
For now, Facebook isn't including ads in the app and monetization is pretty limited. It does however let people earn money with so-called "stars" which let fans make one-time payments. The company says it will explore more monetization options over time.
The app will initially be available on the Google Play app store, with an iOS version in the works for a later date.
Facebook lags behind Twitch and YouTube when it comes to live video game broadcasts. In the first three months of 2020, the firm's game streaming platform clocked almost 554 million hours of viewing time, compared to 1.1 billion for YouTube and 3.1 billion for Twitch, according to research from Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet.
But the company says over 700 million of its users already interact with gaming content on the main Facebook app. It's hoping to gain considerable traction through Facebook Gaming, especially as the coronavirus pandemic and government lockdowns have forced people around the world to shelter in place.